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What Happened on March 26?

  • Jonas Salk announced the discovery of a vaccine for polio. (1953) Clinical trials of the vaccine started the next year, and polio was eventually almost eradicated — something thought to be impossible in 1952, when there were almost 60,000 cases of polio in the US alone.

  • One of the largest Central Park be-ins took place. (1967) Several large be-in protests took place in Central Park during the Vietnam War, but this was one of the largest. In this protest, participants burned down the Central Park Christmas Tree, and were actually accompanied by the Parks Commissioner, who said that the protest made New Years Eve celebrations in Time's Square "old hat."

  • The Camp David peace accord was signed. (1979) Egyptian and Israeli leaders signed the treaty in a ceremony at the White House, ending over three decades of hostilities. The treaty was much more popular outside of the Arabic world than in it; despite the fact that both leaders won the Nobel Peace prize, Egypt was suspended from the Arabic League.

  • Queen Elizabeth II sent the first royal e-mail. (1976) The e-mail was sent from an army base using the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment, though the contents remain classified.

  • Thomas Jefferson was presented with a "mammoth" loaf of bread. (1804) The president had been presented with a 1,200 pound (about 550 kg) block of cheese a few months earlier at his inauguration, and the loaf was baked to accompany the cheese. Jefferson cut the first slice at a public party, which quickly devolved into drunken revelry, according to first-hand accounts.

  • Britain first started using a driving test. (1934) Though British drivers had to have a license since 1903, there was no test required until 1934. The law requiring the test was created after a record year of automobile fatalities in Britain, and also included the re-institution of speed limits, which had been removed in 1930.

  • One of the earliest versions of Aesop's Fable was printed. (1484) The book was printed by William Caxton, who is though to be the first person to introduce the printing press into England, and as being the first retailer of printed books in England.

  • The Book of Mormon was published. (1830) The Book of Mormon, the central text of the Mormon faith, was first published in Palmyra, New York. The city was also the birth place of Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, and where Smith reportedly had his first heavenly visitations.

  • The groundbreaking ceremony was held for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC. (1982) Like the war itself, the memorial was controversial because of its design and placement. The ground was formally broken for the "V" shaped memorial on this day, and was finished eight months later.

  • F. Scott Fitzgerald's first novel was published. (1920) This Side of Paradise was an immediate hit, and launched Fitzgerald's literary career. Fitzgerald is best known for The Great Gatsby, which was published five years later.

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